Monday, November 11, 2013

A Big Dare (and a bunch of Ryanhood lyrics)

It's officially, finally, fall
(even though, as I predicted, we're having our Indian summer - it's almost two weeks into November and it's still 80 degrees outside). 

For a lot of people, the changing weather means adjusted wardrobes and expanded Starbucks (red cups!) budgets, saving for gifts and decorating for the holidays and letting the coziness of autumn leak in through the cracks around our doors as we finally turn off the air conditioning and throw the windows open wide. 

I love those things about fall, to be sure; pretty scarves, really great boots that you got a ridiculously good deal on, white mochas, seasonal candles from Bath and Body Works - they're some of my favorite things.
And if you read my last post, I wrote that I felt like all summer I had been moving, going, getting through. For months and months, I went through hard thing after hard thing - it was a relentless barrage of one emotional shock after another. It felt like I had to devote all the energy I had just to reminding myself that this too shall pass the same way that the sun goes down every night and comes up every morning, with resiliency and consistency and maybe even a little bravado. I prayed for the strength to just get to the next day because this one was too sad, too hard, too less than what I wanted

Even though that sounds SO dramatic, it was where I was at. And all things considered, I feel like I handled my hard season pretty darn well, although that's totally by the grace of God - that's the only reason that I could keep telling myself that even though it felt like the end of the world, it wasn't.

But now, I feel like my pushing, pressing, dragging along, getting through days are morphing into something different. I feel a new stillness, the way it feels after you've run a few miles and you finally have to stop to take a break, when you rest your hands on your knees and hang your head to breathe and all you can hear are the pounding of your heart in your ears and your breath as it fills your lungs with cold, delicious air and the quiet that's everywhere else around you. 

The words I've put to it in my heart are so simple:

Be where you are.

For a long time, I didn't want to do that. I adamantly refused, gave God a resolute I can't, and asked for anything that would make the time pass more quickly. Which happened, for the most part - I look back at the past 8 or 9 months and marvel at how fast it went. I look back at it with complete relief: relief that the painful parts went by so quickly, relief that I had such great people to walk through them with me, relief that they were full of lessons and not just empty punches to the gut, relief that somehow God helped me learn those lessons even though I was in such a hurry to get to the next, less hard part. 

And I did get to the next part. Time passed, the seasons changed, and here I am.
There are a lot of things in my life that aren't where I had pictured them being at this point in my journey. Aren't we all guilty of that, though? We build castles in our skies and make plans and dream dreams and pin to our Pinterest boards, thinking that we know best when really, God has been whispering something totally different to us (to me) all along:

You don't even know how beautiful the things I have in store for you are. 

It's like a challenge - like God is saying Go ahead. I dare you to trust me in this season. 

Which has been a real task! It's taking a lot of faith to just be where I am, to soak up everything that's happening in my life right here. There are so many things that I want to just happen, already! I want to just start the next chapter of my life.

But what I'm learning is that if you're always waiting and watching for the next big thing, opportunity, relationship, door to walk through - you miss the beauty in between the lines of where you are right now. My favorite band, Ryanhood, says it so well in one of their newest songs, called Lover's Lament:

If I say I’ll be happy when
Do I keep myself unhappy til then?
And if I don’t like this moment how will I like the next?
Probably gonna be, probably gonna feel a lot like this

And I relate so much to these words! I spend so much time in the past, "wishing I could have back what I had," or in the future, dreaming up the days where my current ambitions will be realized. But I'm being constantly reminded that the pages of the book of my life aren't blank right now! I'm filling them up with the script of learning how to be a confident, mature, disciplined, educated, developed woman. I'm filling them up with heartfelt conversations over cups of Gold Rush tea from the Raging Sage - I look back over the past almost-year of my life and I see them tumbling through those pages like movements in a symphony. I'm filling them up with passion expressed in the forms of sub-par guitar playing, honest-to-blog writing, and enthusiastic cheers at UofA football and basketball games. I'm filling them up with growth and development and relationship, and that's so beautiful.

There's much to be accomplished in this life - that's something to be recognized and appreciated, to be sure.
Dream big dreams - do it! Don't limit yourself to what you think is possible. I believe that God is in the business of defeating the odds and making big things happen - and if you believe in that too, it's crazy what you can see happen in your life.
But while you're on the road to getting to where you're dreaming of being, don't forget to look around along the way. And if, every so often, you have to step off the full-speed-ahead path to just sit, take a rest, and listen, do that too. And enjoy every blessed, colorful second of it - breathe every ounce of that fresh air in, because I'm learning that these quiet, still seasons can teach you a lot. Sometimes even more than when you're plowing pedal-to-the-metal forward into your future.

Because it's in these still, simple, stay-put seasons that you learn discipline. Trust. Hope. Patience. Diligence.
It's in these stay-put seasons that you learn to appreciate the small prizes that you can find in between the boisterous triumphs that come in seasons of movement.

And even though I will gladly appreciate when things start rolling heavily forward again, I'm learning to appreciate this stillness. This sense of upward (instead of forward) growth. This time of looking around me and soaking up all the goodness that I have right now.

What kind of season are you in?